Meek Mill has come a long way from popping wheelies in North Philadelphia.
On Thursday, city and state officials honored the rapper at City Hall, declaring March 15-17 as “Meek Mill Weekend.” Born Robert Rihmeek Williams, he is being celebrated for his contributions to hip-hop and for bringing national attention to criminal justice reform ahead of his two shows at the Met on Friday and Saturday.
Dressed in a gray sweatsuit designed by the North Philly-based fashion brand Milano di Rouge, Mill thanked his family and numerous city officials including State Sen. Sharif Street and City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson. Mill said his 7-year-old son, who stood quietly at his side, is one of the main reasons for his philanthropy and recent focus on criminal justice.
“I think we deserve better. I’m trying to fight for young kids that I’ve spent time with and sat in prison with," Mill said. “I’ve been to prison a few times for probation violations, but the one time my city of Philadelphia showed me support is the one time I came out of prison.”
Mill was released on bail in April of last year after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted him “extraordinary relief” due to credibility questions raised by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office about the arresting officer on a 2007 gun and drug charge.
After Mill was released from prison, he became a criminal justice reform advocate. In January, Meek teamed up with 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin and music mogul Jay-Z to launch Reform Alliance, an organization focused on recalibrating the injustices of the criminal justice system.
“Our foundation is focusing on probation and parole,” Mill said to the media after the proclamation. “That was the biggest obstacle that always stopped me in my life. ... You have kids that might make a mistake and get on probation. Smoke a joint and you might end up in the penitentiary for three years getting raised by a felon."
“[This honor] is not a call-out for people to do crimes and not go to jail,” Mill said. “This is a call-out for people to get a fair chance. And that’s what I’m here fighting for.”